Wacky times with lens adapters.

Above, and above but not just above.... :  The well regarded Nikkor 50mm 1.2 lens.  Mounted on a Nikon to 4:3rds adapter, mounted on an Olympus 4:3rds to micro 4:3rds adapter then mounted on an Olympus EP2 camera body.  

Just above:  A shot of the front of the Canon G11 made with the Frankenstein set up in the top two images.

But Why?

Well.  I think it's because I really like shooting square with this little camera and I like the way the finder looks.  But, when I use the kit zoom lens I can't really make the DOF dramatically shallow.  And, with the exception of the 50mm Macro, Olympus e series lens, there are really no fast lenses for the system.  I bought the Nikon adapter to use the 50 1.2 on the e series cameras.  I like the effect on the e30 and the e3.  But when I bought the adapter to use e lenses on the EP2 this seemed like a fun experiment.

I haven't had time to shoot any portraits with the set up because of the holiday crush but that's next.

Here's what I like about the combo:

1.  The shallow depth of field!
2.  The amazing center sharpness of this older lens.
3.  The wonderful out of focus feel.

What I've come to dislike about the combo:

1.  I can't really focus it accurately unless I used the quick magnification in the finder.  That gives me an image that is 10x to focus with but it really slows down the process.  Take this caveat with a grain of salt.  I don't have perfect vision and I usually wear glasses for close focusing.

2.  The lens has some nasty green fringing wide open that show in the high contrast intersections.

3.  I lose autofocus.  Obviously.  The lens never had it to begin with.

4.  If I stop down I am looking at more and more gain artifacts in the finder.

5.  If I stop down I lose the visual effect I'm trying to get with this lens in the first place.

What I hope to end up with is a camera/lens combination that gives me back the tight crops and the shallow depth of field I like while being more convenient than other set ups I've tried since the film days.  In truth I'll probably give it a valiant effort and then start using the 50 Macro Olympus lens.  It's almost as fast at f2 and, if I compare them side by side, at f2, the Olympus is a bit sharper and much better corrected for chromatic aberrations.  It will also allow me to set all apertures while focusing and metering at the wide open value.

I'm on week two with the EP2.  Here are my thoughts.  I like it very much.  It requires a bit more control freak intervention on the +/- controls to keep the exposure in the sweet zone.  No problem there.  The IS is astoundingly good with the little kit zoom.  That lens is sharp in the center zone at nearly every aperture I want to use.

Should you rush out and buy one if you already have a G11?  Good question.  I used the G11 to take the photos of the EP2 above and I was impressed once again at what a good job Canon did on that camera.  Unless you have Euros or dollars cascading from your stuffed pockets I would wait a while and push the G11 to its limits.

In fact, I just saw a 16x20 black and white print in my friend's office, made on a G10 and printed with an Epson 3880 this week.  It was absolutely perfect.

If you did pixel peeking you might be able to find a fault but at the normal (and even at the "I'm an opinionated photoshop expert smart-ass" level) it was damn good.   I mean good enough to compete with similar images from the latest DSLR's.  But, this guy has his chops down and the image was well seen.

What to make of all this?  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  And sometimes we buy cameras because we just like buying the cameras.  And there it is.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk,

I found with the EP-1 that the kit lens is not for me. With the Voigtlander adapter, I put a used Leica 50mm Summarit on it. It is lovely, but hard to focus using the magnification and just the LCD. You have to magnify, then go back to normal view, frame and shoot.

There is the Leica/Panasonic 25mm. f1.4 which would work on the EP-1 without an adapter and with autofocus I think. It would be the equivalent of a fast 50mm. The drawback is that it's $899 or so. Sigh.

Kevin said...

It's good to hear some practical stuff on the EP2. Seems like a great second camera for someone with Olympus E system gear already in the bag.

kirk tuck said...

First poster, I just got a post from someone telling me how good the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens it. That seems like an interesting alternative. A friend of mine just bought the GF-1 and that lens. I'll try to report back when I've had a chance to borrow his.

Anonymous said...


Don't know why, but I hadn't thought of the Panasonic 20mm 1.7--can't wait to hear what you think of it. It seems to be getting good reviews.

Justin S. said...

Kirk, Any chance on a comparison between the G11 and the EP2. It doesn't even need to be a real elaborate dissertation, just curious about what you think in terms of portability, stealth, DR, IQ and ease of use.

Or let's say, "if I were doing THIS it'd be THIS one but if I was doing THIS it'd be that one."

If you get the time. Thanks!

the Doug said...

I like buying cameras.

kirk tuck said...

Twelve step program for Kirk and Doug? Not till I run out of money!!!!

Anonymous said...

Comparison of the Sensor Performance E-P1/G11

The Olympus E-P1 with a larger sensor size and twice as large pixel size receives 4 times more light per pixel. than the G11 The larger pixel size means much less noise, especially at low light levels.

The effective color depth is also slightly better with the E-P1.

Regarding the dynamic range the G11 makes a better job and provides an increase by 2/3 f-stops.


For action and event photographer the E-P1/2 is the winner with lower noise up to ISO 800. For portraits under controlled lighting the cameras are nearly equal. The G11 with the higher dynamic range is good in landscape photography.



Anonymous said...

Kirk, if you haven't heard already, Voigtlander makes a Nikon to m4/3 adapter that would let you skip having to use the Nikon to 4/3 adapter first.

Kurt Shoens said...

I'm curious why you (and lots of other people) prefer the E-P2 to the Panasonic G1. The Panasonic has the advantages of lower price, EVF that doesn't conflict with the hot shoe, faster focus, articulated LCD (some people hate those though), and comes in tourist colors. I (unlike Kevin Spacey in the E-P2 ads) consider looking like a tourist a plus.

Of course the Panasonic doesn't have in-body stabilization and is slightly larger.

Anyway, I saw one at a shop and fell in love. I cheaped out and got the Canon G11 instead. It was the thought of a second lens system ...

I guess you won't post your critique of Tom Friedman's "Do-It-Yourself Economy" op-ed. It's in the RSS feed and a good topic of discussion.

nbagno said...

I found this quote that I think is right on target with regard to pixel peeping and printing...

By Robert Roaldi "I often take pictures at less than optimum apetrures and shutter speeds. At 1-to-1 on my monitor I can often see the blur that is the result of too low a shutter speed and too much coffee. But I can often fix those pictures by just reducing the magnification and printing them anyway and pretending that I never saw them at 100%. It seems to eliminate the problem". :-)

Peter Frailey said...

Kirk, A bit off topic, but I notice in the last couple of posts that you've been able to include images that surpass in size the 400x400 pixel max. that I thought blogspot required. I just added some shots today to my own blogger blog and they continue to be limited to 400 pixels (it seems). Any advise? Thanks

Peter F.

kirk tuck said...

Kurt Shoens, In a moment of weakness I deleted the post about the evil and misguided Thomas L. Friedman, who seems hellbent on destroying the creative class in America. Now I've changed my mind but of course I deleted the screed. Does it exist anywhere? I'd love a copy to re-post.

Peter, I got a message that there is an improved version of blogger so I went and upgraded. You can resize and reposition images much more easily. I would do a search within blogspot.

Peter Frailey said...

Thanks, Kirk. I found it. I hadn't noticed the notification banner across the top of my "dashboard". This certainly deals with the more cludgy aspects of the old editing system.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the article. Quick question - Can you "pen" down the steps for achieving manual focus with a manual lens using the evf? If I use the supplied kit zoom in MF mode, the moment I turn the focus barrel the image is magnified in the EVF. Does it work this way with older manual focus legacy lenses?